the finest quality dried Thyme leaves
Thyme is a well known herb. In common usage the name may refer to any or all members of the plant genus Thymus common thyme Thymus vulgaris and some other species that are used as culinary herbs or for medicinal purposes.
Ancient Egyptians used thyme for embalming. The ancient Greeks used it in their baths and burnt it as incense in their temples believing that thyme was a source of courage. It was thought that the spread of thyme throughout Europe was thanks to the Romans as they used it to purify their rooms and to “give an aromatic flavour to cheese and liqueurs”. In the European Middle Ages the herb was placed beneath pillows to aid sleep and ward off nightmares. In this period women would also often give knights and warriors gifts that included thyme leaves as it was believed to bring courage to the bearer. Thyme was also used as incense and placed on coffins during funerals as it was supposed to assure passage into the next life.
Thyme is widely cultivated for its strong flavour which is due to its content of thymol. Thyme is best cultivated in a hot sunny location with well drained soil. It is generally planted in the spring and thereafter grows as a perennial.
Thyme retains its flavour on drying better than many other herbs.
Leaves and flowering tops can be used raw in salads as a garnish or added as a flavouring to cooked foods going especially well with mushrooms and courgettes. It retains its flavour well in long slow cooking. The leaves can be used either fresh or dried. An aromatic tea is made from the fresh or dried leaves.
Thyme is a good source of iron and is used widely in cooking. Thyme is a basic ingredient in Greek Lebanese Italian French Albanian Persian Portuguese Libyan Spanish Syrian and Turkish cuisines and in those derived from them. It is also widely used in Arab and Caribbean cuisines.
Thyme is slow to release its flavours so it is usually added early in the cooking process. Thyme is often used to flavour meats soups and stews. It has a particular affinity to and is often used as a primary flavour with lamb tomatoes and eggs.
Thyme while flavourful does not overpower and blends well with other herbs and spices. In some Levantine countries the condiment za’atar (Arabic for thyme) contains thyme as a vital ingredient. It is a common component of the bouquet garni and of herbes de Provence.
Depending on how it is used in a dish the whole sprig may be used (e.g. in a bouquet garni) or the leaves removed and the stems discarded. Usually when a recipe specifies ‘bunch’ or ‘sprig’ it means the whole form; when it specifies spoons it means the leaves. It is perfectly acceptable to substitute dried for whole thyme.
Thyme retains its flavour on drying better than many other herbs. Dried and especially powdered thyme occupies less space than fresh so less of it is required when substituted in a recipe. As a rule of thumb use one third as much dried as fresh thyme – a little less if it is ground.
Common thyme has a very long history of folk use for a wide range of ailments. It is very rich in essential oils and these are the active ingredients responsible for most of the medicinal properties. In particular thyme is valued for its antiseptic and antioxidant properties it is an excellent tonic and is used in treating respiratory diseases and a variety of other ailments. The flowering tops are anthelmintic strongly antiseptic antispasmodic carminative deodorant diaphoretic disinfectant expectorant sedative and tonic.
The plant is used internally in the treatment of dry coughs whooping cough bronchitis bronchial catarrh asthma laryngitis indigestion gastritis and diarrhoea and enuresis in children. It should not be prescribed for pregnant women. Externally it is used in the treatment of tonsillitis gum diseases rheumatism arthritis and fungal infections. The plant can be used fresh at any time of the year or it can be harvested as it comes into flower and either be distilled for the oil or dried for later use.
Thyme has an antioxidant effect thus regular use of this herb improves the health and longevity of individual bodycells and therefore prolongs the life of the body. The essential oil is strongly antiseptic. The whole herb is used in the treatment of digestive disorders sore throats fevers etc. The essential oil is one of the most important oils used in aromatherapy. It is used especially in cases of exhaustion depression upper respiratory tract infections skin and scalp complaints etc.
The oil can cause allergic reactions and irritation to the skin and mucous membranes.